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The South Carolina National Guard consists of the South Carolina Army National Guard and the South Carolina Air National Guard [1]. American law specifically charges the National Guard with dual federal and state missions. In fact, the National Guard is the only United States military force empowered to function in a state status. Those functions range from limited actions during non-emergency situations to full scale law enforcement when called upon with the suspension of the Posse Comitatus Act, normally reserved for extreme situations when local law enforcement officials can no longer maintain civil control. The National Guard may be called into federal service in response to a call by the President or Congress.

When National Guard troops are called to federal service, the President serves as Commander-in-Chief. The federal mission assigned to the National Guard is: "To provide properly trained and equipped units for prompt mobilization for war, National emergency or as otherwise needed."

The Governor may call individuals or units of the South Carolina National Guard into state service during emergencies or to assist in special situations which lend themselves to use of the National Guard. The state mission assigned to the National Guard is: "To provide trained and disciplined forces for domestic emergencies or as otherwise provided by state law."

The South Carolina State Guard is a military entity authorized by both the State Code of South Carolina and executive order. The South Carolina State Guard (SCSG) is the state’s authorized militia and assumes the state mission of the South Carolina Army National Guard in the event the Guard is mobilized. The SCSG comprises retired active and reserve military personnel, non-prior state soldiers and selected professional persons who serve a state military contract and volunteer their time and talents in further service to their state and assistance to the SCARNG.

Many states also maintain their own military forces, of which the South Carolina State Guard is one. These forces are federally recognized, but are separate from the National Guard and are not meant to be federalized, but rather service the state exclusively, especially when the National Guard is deployed and unavailable. The Military Department of South Carolina oversees the National Guard (Army and Air), state civil defense agencies and the South Carolina State Guard. In South Carolina the State Guard is made up of three brigades of volunteer military personnel who drill without pay - a true militia. All equipment is supplied through the Military Department.

South Carolina has the nation's only elected Adjutant General. Currently, Maj. Gen. Robert Livingston, elected in 2010.

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